BOOK 9 VERISIMILITUDE
(THE CONSPIRACY EXPOSED)
(Sunday, January 21st, 2001)
(University of Las Cruces)
Tess used her powers to conceal herself from the single student she encountered on her way to Alex's dorm room. It was after two a.m. and most of the tenants in the dormitory were asleep. That was the reason Lonni had made the rule that no one left or entered Alex's room except in the early hours of the morning.
Tess let herself into Alex's room and quietly closed the door behind her. "How is the translation progressing?" she asked Lonni.
Lonni shrugged, "Alex seems to be pleased with the progress. He said something about algorithms and probability." She shrugged. "All I know is that the computer still hasn't finished the decryption."
"So when will it finish?" Tess asked.
Lonni shook her head, "He doesn't know. He said it could be a week or six months."
"But he told us he would have a time estimate," Tess pointed out.
"Well he doesn't," Lonni said. "Believe me, I've tried to get a more accurate date from him but he just doesn't know."
"HeÕs supposed to go back to Roswell next week," Tess protested. "What are we going to do then?"
"It's like I told you before," said Lonni. "Alex will set up the computer to continue to work. He can put in a program that lets him access the computer from his house. He will set up a laptop for us, with a link to his computer and when the decryption is finally finished the computer will e-mail us the results. Then, just like we planned, you can tell Max you remember how to read the language and it's time to go home."
As Tess drove back to Roswell, she considered Lonni's plan. Lonni might not think that Isabel and Michael were important, but Tess knew Khivar wanted Isabel back. She could remember pieces of the conversation she'd had with Congresswoman Whitaker the night Whitaker had kidnapped her. Whitaker had said Khivar and Vilondra were lovers and the skins were definitely expecting Isabel to return with them.
Lonni probably wanted to claim Isabel's place at Khivar's side but Tess suspected Khivar didn't want an imitation. He would want the real thing and Tess had to make sure Isabel came with them.
Tess wasn't sure about Michael however. The little she knew about him on Antar wasn't enough to make a decision concerning his importance to Khivar but she decided she had better bring him as well.
But Michael was the least of her problems. He had always wanted to find his real home and she was sure that he would jump at the opportunity to return. She just wasn't sure of what Max and Isabel would do. If they were given a choice, they might choose to stay. So as far as Tess could see, the only solution was not to give them a choice.
(Episode - To Serve & Protect)
(Friday, January 26th, 2001)
The Ganderium Queen used the borrowed human body of Grant Sorensen to pull the selected host through the woods in the body bag. She was glad she had gotten a strong human because the human girl was heavy and her struggling made the journey even more difficult.
She pulled the syringe out of her pocket, knelt down beside the body bag and quickly injected the host with another dose of the sedative. The burial would be easier if the host was quiet.
Dragging the now still human a few more minutes, the Queen finally reached the hole she had prepared. She unzipped the bag and rolled the limp girl out of the bag and into the hole. Then she used her connection with the hive, to signal the release of the Ganderium drones into the water table to make their way to the host.
She had chosen this spot because the underground water was close to the surface and her Ganderium drones would have easy access to the host. It would take several days for enough of the drones to reach the host and to build up the crystal concentration in the host's blood, but if it was done too quickly it would kill her. The crystal concentration had to be just right in the human's blood, or the Queen herself would not be able to successfully infect her.
The Queen put the box over the girl's head and carefully checked the air supply before sealing the box and completely covering the girl with soil. Then she scattered leaves and twigs over the area to make it impossible to distinguish from the surroundings, and with a final look around, she walked back the way she had come.
They had been forced to keep themselves hidden for so long while building up their numbers and strength enough for her to be able to leave the hive, the Queen thought to herself, but their patience would pay off in a matter of days. Soon she would be able to infect the host and then they would be able to spread themselves to every living thing on the planet, insuring their survival.
Isabel laughed as she watched Kyle's dream end with him transforming into an alien. Why was it that people had the mental image of green, slimy aliens? Who was to say there weren't blue or orange aliens? And why the slime?
Suddenly Isabel was standing in a clearing in the woods and she felt confused and frightened. She could hear a girl screaming and looked around to find the source but all she could see were trees and blinding flashes of light. She stumbled forward toward the trees that seemed to be rushing around her, but stopped when a man came into her line of vision. At first she couldn't tell what was happening but then her vision cleared and she stared in horror at what she was witnessing. The man was dragging a body bag but the struggling person inside was obviously still alive.
Isabel jolted awake, "No!" she shouted before realizing she was safe in her room.
(Episode - To Serve & Protect)
(Saturday, January 27th, 2001)
"It's not your home," Maria yelled after Sean as he walked out the front door.
"Did you know he was getting out?" Liz asked.
"No way," said Maria. "I would have alerted the National Guard or something." She gestured toward the door, "Shouldn't he have a police escort or one of those ankle bracelet tracker thingers."
Liz laughed, "He isn't that bad."
"Not that bad?" Maria asked. "You don't call him leading a group of hooligans to break into our school and vandalize the whole place bad?"
"Well," Liz started, "it is traditional for Goddard High kids to break in to West Roswell and cover our school seal with their own before the big game between the schools."
"But Sean and his friends didn't just cover the seal, they practically destroyed it," Maria pointed out," and a lot of other stuff too, not to mention all the TVs and stuff they loaded into their car."
"Yeah," Liz agreed, "they definitely went too far." She shrugged, "I just mean it's not like he's a murderer or anything."
"I'll get back to you on that," Maria said dryly.
(Episode - To Serve & Protect)
(Sunday, January 28th, 2001)
Valenti closed his office door behind him, shutting Dan out. He handed the photo to Isabel. "Is this her?"
Isabel looked at the girl in the photograph. "The hair's the right color. I think so," she said consideringly. She ran her fingers over the photo and quickly tried to connect with the other girl but she didn't receive any images, which usually meant the person was awake, or dead, Isabel thought with a shudder.
"Are you sure?" Valenti asked.
"I never saw her clearly," Isabel admitted. "But it's her," she said with more conviction, not willing to let her uncertainty hamper the investigation. "It has to be."
Tess glanced at her watch as she knocked on Michael's door. It was just nine o'clock and she was supposed to be headed to Las Cruces. Alex was scheduled to return from 'Sweden' later today and she would have to clean up his mind, but first she had to attend the emergency meeting Max had called.
Michael opened the door with barely a glance in her direction and turned away from her without a word. Max and Isabel were already there and Max started immediately after Tess closed the door behind her.
"We wanted you to know that Isabel has been having these dreams, visions about a girl who has been kidnapped," Max said.
Michael rubbed his eyes, "That's great. You get me up early on a Sunday to tell us about dreams."
"They're not just dreams, Michael," Isabel said. "They're real. There's a girl in trouble."
"So why are you dreaming about her?" Michael asked, suddenly interested. "You never dreamed about anyone else before. Is she an alien?"
Isabel shrugged. "I don't know who or what she is, but she needs help."
"So how do we help her?" Tess asked.
"I don't think there is anything we can do right now," Max said. "We told the Sheriff everything we know and heÕs looking into it. We just wanted to let you know what was going on."
Tess smiled with satisfaction as she let herself out of Michael's apartment. Max had been making sure she was included in the group more and more. In the last few months they had become closer, he had started to care about her and she felt it was only a matter of time until he was hers.
Max and Isabel drove straight to the Sheriff's office with the new information.
And when then were in ValentiÕs office, Max took the initiative, "Isabel had another dream and this time she saw who the kidnapper was. It's Grant."
"Sorenson?" Valenti asked with surprise.
"I'm positive," Isabel said.
Valenti sighed, "Alright, I'll take care of it."
"You want us to help?" Max offered.
Valenti didn't want to risk involving them, "Not this time."
Isabel waited until she and Max had gotten back into the car before she asked the question that had been worrying her, "Max, don't you think we should help Valenti? I mean we don't know why Grant is doing this."
"Exactly," Max said. "He might just be crazy or a serial killer and the alien angle is just a coincidence."
Isabel studied Max's face for a moment, "You don't really believe that Max. There is something alien going on and Grant is right in the middle of it. What if it isn't Grant's fault? What if heÕs being controlled by an alien, like Brody? ThatÕs why we should help," Isabel argued.
"No, thatÕs why we should stay out of it," Max said. "What if someone is using him and this situation to draw us out." Max shook his head, "What Valenti told Michael is true. If we get more involved in this, the wrong people might start asking questions."
Isabel sat silently and Max continued, "And I think we should keep this to ourselves. We don't want Michael running off and doing something stupid like confronting Grant."
Tess pushed Alex down onto a bench as Lonni and Rath unloaded Alex's belongings on the curb beside them. The flight Alex was scheduled to be on from Sweden was due in about an hour and she still had to prepare him before his parents came to pick him up. She sat next to him and started a mind warp to change his memories of Las Cruces, to the itinerary and pictures of Sweden that Lonni had provided.
It would have been too hard to try and replace all of his memories of the last few weeks, so she simply told him to substitute images of Sweden for what he really remembered. Whenever he thought of the dorm he would substitute images of the Olsen's home. Whenever he thought of Rath he would see the Olsen family and whenever he thought of Isabel or Lonni he would see Leanna. She also gave him Lonni's cell phone number and e-mail address for when he wanted to contact his long-distance girlfriend.
Then she flipped through the book of slides, shaking her head at the huge number Rath had created. He must have really gotten into it. With a weary sigh, Tess concentrated on putting the images into Alex's memory and integrating them into the itinerary Lonni had put together. She also placed some basic Swedish vocabulary in his mind from the book provided.
Tess had never liked Alex because she had seen him as one of the reasons Isabel was reluctant to accept her destiny to be with Michael. She didn't like the way Alex followed Isabel around and she considered him to be way too geeky. So while she was in his mind, she replaced some of his goofiness with a new suave demeanor. She also gave him the knowledge on how to be a little more cool around Isabel, to have some pride instead of being such a lap-dog.
When she was finished, Tess opened her eyes and sighed with exhaustion. The amount of mind warping she had been doing over the last month was catching up with her and she was glad the hard part was finally over. Alex would go back to his normal life, the computer would continue to decode the book, and when it was finished, they could go home.
Dan entered Valenti's office and confronted him, "Judith Foster is filing a grievance with the State Police Board. She wants a formal investigation into your actions."
Valenti looked at his old friend, "I wonder who put that idea in her head?"
"Lot of questions here, Jimbo," he said with a drawl. "Time for you to start thinking of some answers."
"Talk to my lawyer," Valenti said.
Dan was about to press the subject when the phone rang. He listened as Jim spoke into the receiver but as the conversation continued, he became more suspicious. He waited until Jim put the phone down. "Do deputies always call you on your private line?" he asked sarcastically.
"I'll talk to you in the morning," Valenti said dismissively.
"You know, your Daddy went down just like this," Dan warned his old friend. "Got some fool notion into his head, ignored the law and his friends, and ended up handing over his badge."
"Is that a threat?" Valenti asked.
Dan nodded, 'If that phone call was from those kids, consider it a warning."
Watching out the window, Dan waited until Jim had reached the parking lot, and then he ran to his car. Jim was obviously up to something stupid and he wanted to find out what it was. Maybe he could put a stop to it before his old friend ruined his life any more.
He pulled his car onto the road and followed the police cruiser at a discrete distance, but Valenti accelerated quickly ahead, catching Dan by surprise, and when he rounded the next corner, Valenti's cruiser was nowhere to be seen.
Dan had caught a few words of Jim's phone conversation and most of it had not made any sense but two of the words stood out. Frazier Woods. Jim was going to Frazier Woods. Dan made a right and headed to the highway. If he hurried, he would catch Jim in the act.
After a few minutes of driving, he slowed the car and pulled onto the dirt track that led into Frazier Woods. The track was scarred with deep ruts and potholes, making driving difficult, and he drove slowly, thoroughly searching each lay-by and turn-off for any sign of Jim's cruiser.
He had been searching for more than half and hour before he heard the gunshot.
Quickly turning his car, Dan headed back in the direction he had come, and a second shot was fired. He stopped his car in a lay-by when he heard a third shot and he drew his gun and headed into the trees toward where the shots were coming from.
He heard a fourth shot, obviously from a high-powered rifle, and then several more shots just ahead. He could see three people through the trees and came out behind them. "Freeze."
As the ambulance with Laurie Dupree inside pulled away, Dan approached Max and Isabel Evans, "Okay, you kids will ride back to the Sheriff's station with Deputy Hansen."
Max looked at Isabel quickly and then back to Dan, "We came with Sheriff Valenti, he can take us home."
Dan smiled, "Well the Sheriff has other things to do. Besides, we have a few questions about this situation that need answering."
Hansen opened the door of his squad car, "Right this way Ms. Evans, Mr. Evans."
Max looked to Valenti but the Sheriff indicated with a jut of his chin that they should do what they were told.
Max let Isabel enter the car first and then he climbed in with her. Hansen shut the door behind them and Max quickly whispered to Isabel, "We didn't have a chance to get our story straight with Valenti. But I heard him tell that Dan guy that we were with him. Dan said Valenti could get suspended for that. So if they ask us, we've got to tell them Valenti didn't bring us out here."
"So what do we tell them?" Isabel hissed.
Max shrugged and thought for a moment, "We'll tell them we were hiking in the woods and heard the girl screaming and called Valenti."
"Okay," Isabel agreed, looking out the window at the Sheriff. "I just hope everything will be okay for Valenti."
(Episode - We Are Family)
(Sunday, January 28th, 2001)
(The Evans House Š IsabelÕs Room)
Isabel got out of bed, padded to the window and gazed out into the dark sky. The questions at the Sheriff's station had been endless and even though she was exhausted, she couldn't sleep. There were too many thoughts running through her head, too many questions.
She had been wrong about the identity of the girl taken but the kidnapping had happened just as she had seen it. Isabel had been almost relieved when Valenti had told them Melissa Foster was okay because it meant that the other part of her vision could have been wrong too. Again Isabel envisioned Grant pulling the body bag with the struggling Laurie inside, but quickly squeezed her eyes shut, trying to wipe away the image.
The Grant she knew was gentle and funny and very serious about his work, and she enjoyed spending time with him. It was possible, she told herself, that she her subconscious had just superimposed Grant's face on the kidnapper because she had recently been with him. It could have been part of her dream, she thought. Maybe Grant was completely innocent and she had been wrong about him like she had been wrong about Melissa Foster.
Isabel sank into a chair with a sigh. Valenti was investigating Grant because she had told him to, but she desperately hoped the investigation cleared him. She didn't want to believe Grant was capable of doing what she had seen.
(Episode - We Are Family)
(Monday, January 29th, 2001)
(The Valenti House)
Michael waited as Max knocked on the Sheriff's door. They had gotten a message to come to his house as quickly as possible and Michael was afraid of what might be waiting for them.
Isabel opened the door and Max asked what they were both thinking, "We got a message from Valenti. What's going on?"
"Laurie Dupree is here," Isabel said.
Michael was somewhat surprised but relieved Laurie was okay and followed Isabel as she led them to a closed door.
Michael stood back as Isabel knocked, calling to the girl inside, "Laurie? Laurie, you can come out. It's okay. You remember Max. He was there that night. This is our friend Michael."
Michael got a glimpse of the girl for the first time, "Hey."
Laurie's eyes quickly flicked between the members of the group and suddenly she erupted into hysterics, "You stay away from me! You're dead! You're dead!" She slammed the door and locked it.
Michael didn't know if Laurie was an alien or not but she was definitely crazy. She had threatened to kill them and they were only trying to help her.
(Episode - We Are Family)
(Tuesday, January 30th, 2001)
(West Roswell High School)
Song Playing: Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx
As Liz had watched the slides of Alex's trip, the night before, she had become more and more sad. Since Max had healed her, it seemed as if all of their lives had been centered around the aliensÕ problems, either solving them or waiting for the next one to occur. And it was not that she blamed them, it was just the opposite. Liz considered helping them and keeping them safe more important than anything else.
But their problems were not only consuming her life, the problems were consuming the aliensÕ lives to the exclusion of everything else. They were all sacrificing their lives to this cause and it was just so unfair because there was so much to do and see in the world and Liz was afraid they would be robbed of their opportunities, their youth. The possibility had bothered her so much that she had written a note to Max to meet her so she could discuss it with him.
The sound of the door opening drew her attention and she looked over to see Max entering.
"I got your note," Max said with concern. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Liz assured him, but then thought better of her answer. "No. No, um that's not true. I've just been thinking a lot lately, and..." she trailed off and then started again. "Have you ever wanted to see Sweden?"
"Sweden?" Max asked puzzled by the sudden change of subject.
Liz could see the confusion on his face, "I mean or anywhere. Peru, Nigeria, New Zealand."
"Sure," Max agreed, "but the closest I'm gonna get right now is the Granolith chamber.Ó He studied her face, ŅWhy?"
Liz sighed, "Watching Alex this week, I just realized that it's our right to see the world, to live our dreams, live life."
Max shook his head, "Liz, that can't happen."
"Why?" Liz asked.
"Because it doesn't work that way for us," he said gently. "You know that."
Liz continued, "You and Isabel and Michael and Tess are, you guys are getting cheated on a lot of things, and it's not fair. None of it is."
Max remembered the things Liz had said to him in his room months ago. She wanted to be safe and being involved with them, with him, made her anything but safe. They had been involving her too much in their problems and even though he wanted to keep her at his side, he loved her too much to force her to stay.
He took a deep breath, the words he was about to speak tearing him apart inside. "Liz, you, should get to see Sweden. We... I, hold you back."
Liz shook her head, "No, Max."
"Kyle was right," Max said.
Liz remembered Kyle's words to Max.
You and your Martian friends move in, take over, and obliterate any shred of normalcy. Our lives are no longer ours,
And Liz instantly denied them, "That's not true."
"Everyone we touch gets hurt in some way or another," Max said. "Five years from now, I don't want you to open your eyes and realize that, that you missed out. You're part of the group. You always will be. But you need to be allowed to," he paused looking for the right word, "to grow."
Max's words brought tears to her eyes and Liz pulled him into an embrace. It was obvious he only wanted the best for her and even though she knew he loved her and wanted her to stay, he was letting her go. She held him tight for a few moments and then whispered into his ear, "Why can't you come with me?"
Max held Liz to him in a desperate embrace. He loved her so much and he was terrified of losing her but as much as he wanted to just leave it all behind and go with her, he wouldn't. He wasn't giving up on her or their relationship, just the opposite, he knew that someday they would be together but right now it wasn't possible. Liz had shown him that sometimes you had to sacrifice your wants for the greater good, and right now he needed to be here. Liz already knew his answer and the reasons behind it, but he said it aloud for both of them, "Because I can't. But I'll be watching you, Liz Parker, wherever you go. And I'll be here when you get back."
(Roswell City Council Chambers)
Jim sat in the council room after everyone else had left. He still couldn't believe they had fired him but even though he was sorry to lose his job, he felt it was worth it because they had rescued Laurie.
The sound of the door opening drew his attention and he looked up as Dan reentered the room. His old friend had testified against him but Jim wasn't angry, because he could imagine how his actions appeared to others. "Are you sure it's wise to be alone with me?" Jim joked. "You have to go back to Santa Fe tomorrow and you might get tainted by association."
"That's real funny Jimbo," Dan said sarcastically. "Just tell me one thing. Is whatever secret you're protecting worth your job?"
"I don't know what you mean," Jim said, automatically denying Dan's accusation.
Dan studied him for a moment and then shrugged, "Maybe you don't. Maybe you are crazy just like your old man, but whatever you think is going on has changed you, and I don't know who you are anymore."
Jim shook his head, "That's funny, I was just thinking that I didn't know you anymore. There was a time when we would have backed-up each other without question."
"That's because I trusted you to do the right thing," Dan explained. "But now..." he let his sentence trail off.
Jim picked up where Dan stopped, "Now you don't."
(The Evans House Š MaxÕs Room)
Max studied the sample of the blue crystal under the microscope. "I don't believe this."
"What?" Michael asked anxiously.
"It looks like they're pulsating," Max said.
"What does that mean, that they're alive?"
Max shrugged, "I don't know what it means. I've never seen anything like it but maybe we should check into Laurie's background to find out why she was taken."
Michael nodded, "Her chart in the hospital said she was in a mental hospital. Maybe we should start there."
"Okay," Max agreed. "You and Isabel go and check it out and I'll see what I can find out about these crystals."
(Episode - We Are Family)
(Friday, February 2nd, 2001)
(Pinecrest Psychiatric Hospital)
Isabel shivered as she looked around the room, "Can you imagine being locked up in a place like this?"
Michael didn't even have to think about his answer, "This would suck big."
"Okay, this just doesn't feel right," Isabel said. "Digging through the intimate details of these people's lives."
Michael ignored Isabel's comment and opened a file drawer and quickly scanned through the files looking for Dupree. "Yes!" he cried and pulled the file out and opened it but his elation turned to disappointment when he saw that it was empty, "No."
Isabel pushed her scruples aside and searched a pile of duffel bags, quickly realizing what they were. "Michael," she called to him, "they're full of personal belongings." She found the bag marked Dupree, opened it and pulled out a stack of photos. "Look, here. Look at this." She flipped through the old photos but stopped when a familiar face caught her attention. "My God," she said, showing the photo to Michael. "That looks just like you!"
"It is me." Michael was dumbfounded as he stared at the photo that could have been of himself. He had searched his whole life for his real family and finally he had found them.
(Episode - Disturbing Behavior)
(Saturday, February 3rd, 2001)
(The Evans House - Max's Room)
The mass of Ganderium crystals acted more on instinct than with actual thought. They had been surrounded by potentially dangerous humans since their capture so they had remained dormant.
But when they found themselves in an open container with a single sleeping human, they took the opportunity to sample his DNA for the defective gene they needed to build their numbers. They pushed their way out of the container and across the surface, quickly covering the nearest appendage.
The human awoke before they had finished sampling the DNA so they used their tactile strength to anchor his appendage until they had finished. Joyously they discovered the defective gene but almost immediately they discovered that the human already had Ganderium crystals in his system.
Immediately they released the human not wanting to risk harming him or their Ganderium brothers within.
(Episode - Disturbing Behavior)
(Sunday, February 4th, 2001)
(Roswell UFO Museum)
"I've been put under hypnosis before," Brody said. "It's never helped me remember anything about my experiences."
"This would be different," Isabel claimed, hoping to convince him. "I have a gift. I'm a little psychic."
Brody wondered if she was joking and looked to Max and Liz to see if they were laughing. "Come on."
Liz picked up Isabel's story, "You believe in aliens, but you don't believe in psychic phenomena?"
"I was abducted by aliens," Brody explained. "I know they exist."
"I know my gift exists," Isabel asserted.
"Aren't you at least curious?" Max coaxed.
"Okay," Brody agreed, "So what do we do?"
Isabel released a tension-filled breath and quickly took charge before he could change his mind. "Okay. Relax. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Give me your hand. This won't hurt."
She didn't know exactly what she should do to contact Larek or how much power it would take, so as she reached for his hand, she built her power to a tremendous level.
Brody continued to speak even with his eyes shut, "I just want to warn you, the last time I was put through this, I was a very difficult subject. I just don't want you to be too disappointed when..."
Isabel barely touched Brody's hand but the reaction was instantaneous. She felt her power enter his body and immediately an answering surge of power burst from him. It was like two magnets of the same polarity being forced together. She felt her power and the other react, and the resulting force threw them across the room in opposite directions.
Isabel felt herself hit the wall and then the floor, and stars danced before her eyes for a moment before she could clear them. When she could focus, Max was on the floor before her.
"You shouldn't have done that," Brody said from across the room.
"Brody?" Max asked.
"Larek," Brody's mouth answered. "This body has not been prepared for communication. Its heart has stopped."
Isabel got up painfully, but she glad the plan had worked, and she and Max went to Brody's side.
Larek continued, "It may restart once I've released him. What is it you want?"
"We need your help," Max started to explain. "We think that some form of a, a parasite was released into our Earth's ecosystem when our ship crashed fifty years ago. We think they're dangerous..."
Larek cut him off, not really having heard anything after Max said a parasite had been released. "When you say parasite, do you mean the Ganderium from your ship have escaped into the ecosystem?"
"I don't know," Max said. "It looks like blue crystals."
Larek was horrified. The Ganderium were safe as long as they remained under controlled circumstances but if they had gotten loose, he didn't even want to think about what they would do. "Earth is in serious trouble," Larek said. "You must leave now."
"What are you talking about?" Max asked, not sure what Larek meant.
"Earth has become infected," Larek explained quickly. He needed to leave the body soon or he would kill the human. "You're no longer safe there. Get off the planet now."
"Okay," Max said, trying to take in everything Larek had said.
Larek took Max's 'Okay' for agreement and he pulled his consciousness out of the human to prevent further damage.
Brody's body suddenly sagged and Max knew that Larek had released him. "Wait, wait, wait!"
(The Antarian System)
Larek placed the transverse thought projector aside. He didn't know that communication through a human was even possible in the manner in which Max had just contacted him. It had just been lucky that he had been close to the thought projector to receive its signal. He had felt the call in his mind somehow, probably because of his connection with the human, Brody, and rushed to the thought projector for the power burst he needed for the communication.
It was too bad the Ganderium had gotten loose on Earth. Eventually they would destroy everything, and the planet would become unlivable until the Ganderium all died out.
It was also unfortunate that Max and the others would be forced to leave. Larek didn't know if they had an alternate plan and it would probably mean they would have to return to Antar and face Khivar. Larek would harbor them on Talros if he could, but his army was no match for Khivar's mighty war-machine. Khivar could simply send a fraction of his war ships...
Larek let the thought trail off, as suddenly some of Max's words came back to him. He had been so focused on the Ganderium problem he hadn't realized what Max had been saying, but now it came back to him with the full force of the meaning. Max had said their ship had crashed fifty years before and that was what had allowed the Ganderium to escape.
Max's ship had crashed. Max hadn't said how bad the damage had been but only a hull breach would have let the Ganderium escape.
What if Max and the others didn't have a way off the planet? Larek wondered.
It would take four years for a ship to arrive from Antar, and Max and the Earth didn't have that much time.
The only chance Max and the Earth had, was to stop the Ganderium, and with no memories of their past life, they would need all the help he could give them. Larek reached for the thought projector, passing his hand over the controls. He would have to work quickly to prepare the human Brody in order to assist Max.
(Episode - How the Other Half Live)
(Monday, February 5th, 2001)
Tess' hands shook as she dialed Lonni's number, Liz's answer to her question echoing through her mind.
Tess had been confused by Larek's warning and asked, And just so I'm clear, when Larek said that Earth was infected, what exactly are we talking here? You know, a couple of acres? Couple of miles?
Then Liz had given her chilling answer, I think he was speaking a little more globally.
Globally, Tess thought. The whole world would become unlivable and they had to get off the planet.
"Come on, pick-up. Pick-up," Tess chanted under her breath as she listened to Lonni's phone ringing.
Finally on the fourth ring, Lonni answered with an annoyed tone in her voice, "Yeah."
"It's Tess and we've got a big problem," she started, and then quickly outlined what they had learned about the Ganderium threat.
"Wait a minute," Lonni said. "Your telling me the whole Earth can become contaminated just like that?"
"That's what Larek told us would happen if we don't stop it," Tess said, her voice raising hysterically. "We have to get off of this planet. We have to tell Nicholas what is happening and give him the Granolith and he will take us home."
"No!" Lonni exclaimed. "I will not give up my only piece of leverage that easily. You said yourself that this girl, Laurie wasn't infected yet. That will give us a little more time to get the translation and who knows, maybe in the mean time, my brother will save the world. If it starts going bad and the girl does become infected we can tell Nicholas then."
"But Lonni..." Tess argued, only to be cut off.
"You'll do as I say, Tess," Lonni said in a threatening tone. "I've waited too long for you to mess this up because you got freaked out."
"So what should I do?" asked Tess helplessly.
"You do whatever Max tells you to stop these things, that is what you do," mocked Lonni, "and if anything happens, call me immediately."
(Dupree House - Basement)
Laurie pulled a dress out of a box, "This is Grandma's. I never met her."
"What was her name?" Michael asked, genuinely interested.
Laurie smiled, "Ada Jane. She's dead too."
Michael was surprised that he was disappointed. He had just found his family but most of them were dead. Unconsciously he reached up to scratch his eyebrow but stopped when he saw Laurie looking at his hand.
"Can't fight who we are Michael," Laurie said. "You're Grandpa's legacy, and I'm crazy."
Michael took her by the shoulders and forced her to look at him. "You are not crazy," he asserted. "What happened to you was real. I mean, you have a right to live your life. Bobby and Meredith have tried to take that away from you, but it's yours. Just like this house is yours. Now look, I'm not what you would call an optimist, life sucks, people suck. That's reality. But you're special. You're a good person and you deserve better than to be locked up in an institution because it's more convenient for your aunt and uncle. This is your life, and this is your house.
Laurie was dumbfounded for a moment. No one had ever talked to her like Michael did. He actually believed in her. She turned to him with a smile.
Michael smiled back, hoping that he had reached her. "So your Grandpa left you the house because he didn't trust Bobby or Meredith but what about your parents?"
"I don't even remember them," Laurie said. "They died when I was little and I was raised here by Grandpa."
"Then this has been your home your whole life," Michael said, "and you should start acting like it."
The Ganderium crystals reacted to the intrusion of their nest by the two humans the only way they could, by sealing them inside and cutting off their oxygen. The hive of crystals worked cooperatively, the ones in contact with the surface oxygen passing it through the shared surface to the ones inside, so they would not die. But they could cut off the oxygen to the humans, it was their only defense.
Then they simply had to wait until the intruders died.
Then an attack started from the surface. More humans were attempting to enter the hive and the crystals worked together to reinforce the outer shell, to prevent any more intruders from invading.
The Ganderium Queen in side the borrowed human, Grant, had just reached the outskirts of town, when she received the impression that the hive was in danger. She immediately turned the vehicle and headed it back toward Frazier Woods.
It took her more than half-an-hour to arrive at the area where the hive was located but when she reached the turn-off, the other cars present alerted her to the fact that she wasn't alone. She continued past the cars and parked behind some trees where she wouldn't be observed by the humans present.
She crept through the trees silently to observe the actions of the humans. They were digging around the hive, apparently attempting to get inside. Rage boiled up within her, knowing that the humans meant to do harm to her drones, and she turned back to the truck to look for a weapon.
Suddenly Grant came back to his senses. He was standing next to his truck and there were trees all around. At first he didn't realize where he was but he recognized the area almost immediately. He was in Frazier Woods.
He didn't remember how he got there but he started toward his truck. He had the compulsion to go to Tucson and he didn't know why. He didn't want to go to Tucson and he fought the urge, clapping his hand to his head as the pain started.
Suddenly he heard voices and crept through the trees until he could see who it was. He was surprised to see Isabel and Max and two other girls with shovels. They seemed to be having an intense conversation and then suddenly Isabel headed for her car.
He watched her for a moment before he made up his mind. There was something wrong with him and Isabel was the only one he could think of to turn to for help.
Grant sprinted back to his truck and put it in gear. He would follow Isabel and get her to help him.
Isabel awoke to find herself in a strange car. Her head throbbed painfully but she turned to see who was at her side, "Grant?"
Grant was grateful she was finally awake. He had not wanted to take Isabel but it was the only thing he could do to stop the compulsion to kill her. "I'm not doing so good Isabel. That Agent, from the FBI..." he trailed off.
"Agent Duff?" Isabel prompted.
Isabel trying to help him made him angry. It was as if she thought he didn't remember. "Yeah, I know her name, okay? I know things! She said I went to Wyoming. She asked if I stole a gun there. I don't remember!" he yelled. "When I try to remember, it just gets worse." He turned to Isabel, "You're the only one I trust Isabel. You have to help me."
Isabel didn't know what to do. Grant sounded crazy and he had kidnapped her. She looked around trying to get some bearings but she didn't recognize the area. "Okay," she said in what she hoped was a soothing tone. "Okay, I will. Just pull the car over and we'll get you some fresh air."
Grant ignored her, "Did I get shot? Huh?"
"That was you," Isabel gasped. In the last few days, she convinced herself that she had been mistaken about Grant and he couldn't possibly have been involved but she couldn't deny it any longer. Grant had been shot by the Sheriff when the rescued Laurie. He was the kidnapper.
"When did I get these scratches on my neck?" Grant asked and then answered his own question, "I don't know. Here's another one. Why am I driving to Tucson? I don't know!" he yelled. "Help me Isabel," he begged, "Please."
Isabel was practically in tears hearing Grant begging for help but suddenly he seemed to forget she was there and his voice changed as he began to chant. He seemed to be having some kind of episode or a breakdown and Isabel spoke, trying to bring him out of it. "When did this all start happening?"
Grant refocused on her, "Hard to say. Uh, I uh, have gaps in time. I think it was, when I started digging out near Pohlman Ranch. Some time last summer. Found these weird crystals."
"Oh my God," Isabel gasped, "Oh God, Larek said there was a Queen."
"What?" Grant asked, not understanding what she was saying.
"Oh God," Isabel started, trying to explain it to him, "Look Grant, you're going to be alright. Your body has been, has been taken over by something."
"What kind of, thing?"
"It's hard to explain, but it must have happened when you were digging," she broke off, her mind running on overload. Grant wasn't responsible for anything he had done and she unknowingly spoke her thoughts aloud. "God, it was the Ganderium. They must have been in the water tab..."
Isabel seemed to know what was happening to him but Grant couldn't understand what she meant and it made him even angrier. "I don't know what that means, okay?" he shouted. "I'm losing it here!"
"Grant..." Isabel soothed.
He continued as if she hadn't spoken, "Why is this happening to me? I'm a good person."
"I know," Isabel said.
Grant was surprised by her answer, "Do you?"
"Yes," she assured him.
The compulsion to kill her was becoming unbearable but he tried to fight against it. "I have to kill you, but I don't wanna." Suddenly an idea occurred to him, "There's a cell phone in my coat pocket. Grab the phone Isabel. Now!"
"Okay, okay," she said as she took the phone. She desperately wanted to help him but she didn't know what to do. He was on his way to Tucson to get Laurie, and Isabel knew he had to be stopped but she didn't know how to do it without hurting him. She tried to plead with him, "Grant."
He was barely holding himself together and he knew it wouldn't last too much longer. He stopped the car on the side of the road. "Get out of the car."
"No," Isabel said, trying to think of something she could do to help.
The compulsion to kill Isabel was overwhelming all of Grant's other thoughts. "Get out of the car!" he bellowed.
Isabel was so worried about him, she was practically in tears, and once again she tried to reach him, "I can't help you if you don't..."
Grant cut her off, "Please. Get out of the car."
She reluctantly got out of the truck but turned back to him, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She watched as Grant drove away and when he was out of sight she quickly dialed the Sheriff to inform him of what was happening.
(The Dupree Mansion - Poolside)
Carmen held out a tray with Maria's cell phone in front of Michael, "This one is for you sir."
"Thank you," said Michael as he reached for the phone. "Hello?"
"Michael, it's Max. The crystals can't live without oxygen."
"Okay," Michael said, wondering how that information applied to him.
"That's how we can stop it," Max explained.
"Well, I got a news flash for you Maxwell," Michael scoffed, "there are no crystals around here."
"So Laurie's safe?" Max asked, attempting to bring Michael around to the point of the call.
"She's under my constant watch," Michael said, "I'm not even sleeping. How are things with you?"
"Tired," Max sighed. "It's been a long couple of days."
"Yeah, tell me about it," Michael sighed, not really listening.
"It's been raining pretty hard here," Max said.
Carmen handed Michael the DVD player. "Thank you," he whispered.
"Morale's a little low," Max continued.
"Ah Max, I gotta take another patrol round the perimeter," Michael said, impatient to get off the phone.
"We'll talk later," Max said.
"Okay," Michael said, ending the conversation. He absentmindedly pressed the button he thought was end but accidentally pressed the call button and tossed the phone onto the lounger.
"Oh, Carmen," he called out. "Can I get some iced tea please?" Maria nodded and he indicated her too as he added, "For the both of us?"
Michael settled back into the lounger with a sigh of contentment. This was definitely the life.
As the opening credits started on Braveheart, Michael missed the blinking low-battery message on the cell phone and then the screen went blank.
When Isabel had gotten off the phone with the Sheriff, she had dialed Maria's cell phone but she had only gotten a busy signal. Then she had tried Liz but her phone had also been busy so Isabel had known Liz and Maria they were talking to one another.
Isabel waited a few minutes, hoping they had ended their call and tried again. After one ring, Maria's phone was answered and Isabel started to blurt out a warning, "Hey you guys have gotta get..." but stopped as she heard the familiar voice on the message.
"The customer you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. Please try your call again later."
"Damn," Isabel said, knowing what unavailable meant. "Can't Maria ever remember to charge her cell phone batteries?"
Isabel didn't have the Dupree's number and dialed information, but discovered they were unlisted. Then she called Liz, but none of the group knew the Dupree's number either. There was no way to warn Michael that Grant was coming. Isabel just hoped Valenti got there in time.
As Jim drove to the Sheriff's station, he considered what to tell Agent Duff. If he tried to tell her too much she wouldn't believe him, but he couldn't just let her walk into the situation completely unprepared.
He glanced at his watch. Isabel said they had a couple of hours. If they could get to Tucson ahead of Grant, there was a chance they could stop him. Jim decided he would tell Duff anything to get her there and then he would worry about explanations later.
(Dupree Mansion Š Basement)
Michael reached the bottom step just as the jellyfish-like creature emerged from Grant's chest and he hobbled to the door, "Everybody out! Now! Now!"
Valenti waited until everyone was out and he pulled the door shut.
"Okay," Maria said, "whatever you're gonna do, do it quick. That thing looks pissed!"
Michael spotted the ventilation fan and instantly an idea came to him. He raised his hand and used his power to run the fan, quickly siphoning all of the air out of the room. Then he closed the vent and they watched as the Ganderium Queen started to throw herself into the walls, seeking an escape.
"What did you do?" Jim asked Michael.
Michael shrugged, "Max said they need oxygen to live. So I just sucked all the air out."
The Queen's actions became more and more desperate as she consumed the last of the oxygen. In a desperate last attempt to escape she threw herself against the small window in the door, but the force of the impact ruptured her thin outer membrane and she died instantly.
"Simple," Michael said, enormously proud of himself for saving the world.
"So it's, it's over?" Laurie asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
Jim sighed, "Guess that depends on what happens to the rest of the crystals."
Michael looked at Agent Duff for the first time. He hadn't had time to consider that he was using his powers in front of her, his only thought was to stop the Ganderium Queen.
He watched silently as she turned to go back upstairs and caught the Sheriff's attention. Michael motioned to Agent Duff with a jut of his chin and directed his question to Jim, "What about..."
Jim nodded, "I'll take care of it."
"So looks like I have two options," Agent Duff started. "Tell the truth about everything I've seen, or write a false report and commit a felony."
"Not very attractive options," Jim agreed.
"I know," she sighed.
"I always took a very legal approach to my job," Jim explained. "If I couldn't put it in a report, or swear to it in a court of law, in my mind, it never happened."
"Just walk away?" she asked.
Jim nodded, "That would be my advice. Sometimes it's better just to walk away with your victories."
"And what about the body downstairs with the blue crystals sticking out of its chest?" she asked. "What do we tell people happened to him?"
Jim remained silent and took a slow sip of his drink.
Agent Duff nodded, "We don't tell them anything because there will be no body." She looked at Jim intently, "Have you had to do this kind of thing before? And what about Michael? What was that he did in the basement?"
Jim studied the liquid in his glass, "Do you really want to know?"
She thought for a moment and then shook her head, "No, I don't."
Jim nodded once in agreement.
"I guess officially Sorensen will just have to be the one that got away," Duff said.
Isabel had been sitting next to Grant's body for only a few minutes when the Ganderium crystals seemed to quiver and then suddenly they melted, running down the sides of the cot and forming a blue puddle on the floor.
Isabel stood and brushed her hand over Grant's forehead. She still couldn't believe he was dead. They had been together just a couple of hours ago and even though she hadn't been able to help him, she genuinely thought it would all work out.
Her eyes wandered down to the gaping wound in his chest. She knew that she didn't have the strength to fix his ravaged flesh but she could at least partially repair the damage. She passed her hand over Grant's chest, closing his skin, fixing his torn clothing and cleaning him. Grant was a good person and it was the least she could do for him.
When she had arrived, the Sheriff had told her what had happened, how Grant had sacrificed himself to stop the creature within him. Isabel wiped at a tear that ran down her cheek. She wished she could have found a way to help him, he deserved so much more than this.
She knew they couldn't turn his body over to the authorities because there would be too many questions. They would have to get rid of his body and no one would know he had died a hero. Grant had told her that he had no family living, so at least there would be no one to wonder what happened to him but there would also be no one to mourn him, except herself.
Kyle, Alex, Liz, Max and Tess had gotten together for an impromptu celebration at the Crashdown that night, to celebrate saving the world. They had danced and eaten and toasted one another with Cherry Coke until midnight, and Tess was almost giddy as she climbed into her car to head home.
She had worked as part of the group and they had all accepted her, even Max. He had treated her like a friend, he had listened to her opinions and he had especially invited her to come to the Crashdown with them to celebrate. Max was letting her into his life more and more and she was soon he would accept her into her proper place at his side.
Tess smiled as she remembered the party. She and Liz had talked and laughed and danced, and Tess had started to wonder if they might have been friends had they met under different circumstances. Liz was nice and now that she wasn't after Max, Tess thought maybe they could be friends.
Tess' pleasant thoughts lasted until she remembered Lonni and then all of her fantasies of the future evaporated. As soon as the translation was finished, she, Max and the others would be leaving for Antar. But, Tess reminded herself, she would have a future with Max, it just wouldn't be on Earth.
She pulled off the road and dialed Lonni's number.
It was answered after one ring, "Yeah."
"It's over," Tess said. "Everything is okay."
"See, I told you it would work out," Lonni said.
"Yeah," Tess agreed unenthusiastically.
"So we are right back on schedule."
"I just wish that stupid computer would hurry up," Tess said.
"Be patient a little longer," Lonni soothed, "and we'll get everything we want."
Lonni ended the call with a roll of her eyes, "What a scrub."
Rath laughed, "Why don't we just get the location of the Granolith and get rid of her? The computer is working on the translation so we don't need her anymore."
Lonni shook her head, "It's good to have someone close to Max. You never know when she might come across with information like this Ganderium thing." She shrugged, "Besides, Tess is going to 'suddenly' remember how to read the book and tell Max how to use the Granolith."
Rath shook his head, "Tess gets on my nerves, just like Ava."
Lonni shrugged, "At least Tess has been a little more useful than Ava. We should keep her around until we get what we want. We might need Tess to use her unique talents, but even if we don't, we will have someone we can blame this whole thing on if it goes wrong."
BOOK 9 - VERISIMILITUDE|
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